NYPD Blue, Season 3, Episode 3,
One Big Happy Family
Written by Gardner Stern
Directed by Michael M. Robin
To skip straight down to the review, click here.

PLOT ONE: RAPISTS EXPRESS

As they enter the 15th precincthouse in the morning, Bobby and Andy spot Silky, the pimp who helped them out on the Jerry McCabe case last year. Turns out that Silky is out of the business, and to make ends meet, he sold off his camcorder to a Julian Curvis, whose check promptly bounced. Silky's hauled Curvis in to complain about the matter, and Bobby notices that Curvis fits the description of the suspect from an unsolved string of rapes from last spring.

Bobby tries to keep Curvis at the precincthouse long enough to get one of the victims to come down to make an ID, but after Silky gets his new check to clear, Julian takes off, but not before Andy snaps a Polaroid of him.

The next day, Simone, Sip and Russell are called in on the murder of a young woman. Her distraught husband informs the cops that she called him at work the night before to tell him that there was a strange deliveryman at the door. He told her not to let him in, but apparently after he hung up, she opened the door to her killer. The whole deliveryman motif fits the same MO as the rapes last spring, and Andy notes that the dead dead woman's apartment building is a dead ringer for a building down the block where one of the previous rape victims lives. That woman positively IDs the picture of Curvis, and Andy and Bobby figure that he made a mistake on the address and tried to kill his previous victim to keep her from identifying him.

They set up a stakeout in the woman's apartment, with Russell as bait, and, sure enough, Curvis shows up posing as a deilveryman. When he attempts to strangle Diane, Bobby pounces on him and has to be pulled off by Andy. Back at the stationhouse, Bobby exaggerates about their case and scares Curvis into confessing to avoid the death penalty.

PLOT TWO: MAKE EXCUSES FOR DADDY

Diane gets called away from work to deal with an ongoing "family situation." Her father has apparently been abusing her mother for quite some time, and the latest incident, during which he smashed up some glasses at a neighborhood bar, drew police attention. Diane pays off the barowner to get him to not press charges, but insists that her father stay at her place tonight and that he go to a counseling program in the morning. The next night back at home, he puts up a good front for a little while, but after a few minutes, he's back to berating his wife and Diane's kid brother Doug. Diane can't quite handle it, and bolts to the nearest bar, where she has two beers before coming to her senses and calling Bobby to take her home.

PLOT THREE: TILL DEATH DO US PART

Medavoy and Lesniak get called to interview Mr. Paul Biaggi, who was shot in the face four times, but survived because two of the bullets bounced off the metalwork that was holding his jaw together after he was hit in the face by a baseball bat the week before. Despite these two unprovoked assaults, Biaggi claims he has "not an enemy in the world."

Greg and Adrianne are getting nowhere fast on the case when Andy gets a call from a snitch who had been approached by Mr. Biaggi's wife to put out a hit on him. Andy talks the guy into setting up a second meeting with Mrs. Biaggi, which Greg and Adrianne videotape. Unfortunately, Mr. Biaggi refuses to believe his wife doesn't love him and the case doesn't look like it'll make it far into the system.

PLOT FOUR: ADRIANNE, IS THAT YOU?

The investigation into the Biaggi shooting takes place on the same day as James' first day back on the job after rehabbing his leg, and Greg doesn't miss the opportunity to tell anyone with ears his belief that Adrianne's special soup is what got James back up to speed so quickly. During the stakeout of Mrs. Biaggi, Adrianne finally gets fed up with Greg's ham-handed attempts to fix her up with James. First, she tries to tell him that she's not interested in young Martinez. When that doesn't work (as it never seems to with James), she gets fed up and tells Greg the real reason why nothing could ever happen: "Greg, I'm gay."

The easily-flustered Medavoy is especially flabbergasted by this revelation, but eventually calms down enough to try to talk James out of his relentless pursuit of Lesniak. In the end, he, too has to mention Adrianne's lesbianism to get the point across. James finally gets a clue and tells her that he understands.

MISCELLANEOUS THREADS:

Sylvia (who's unseen this week) is apparently experiencing some of the unpleasant side effects of pregnancy - she vomits on a co-worker in the middle of a meeting.


After a thoroughly uninspired outing last week, Blue returns with an episode that, if not as exciting as the season premiere, at least left me feeling satisfied.

By all rights, I should have really disliked this episode: it had a fairly simple lead case in which the perp's confession was handed to Sip and Simone on a platter and it confirmed people's fears that James' shooting would have any long-term effects. But the characterization was terrific all around tonight, particularly Russell and Lesniak, which is a rarity for both of them.

I'll get Adrianne out of the way first, as her little confession was easily the most-talked about scene among the group I watched the episode with. The first question I have is this: is she really a lesbian or did she just say that out of frustration with Martinez and Medavoy? Should we start a pool of some kind?

While I think it would be a very good thing for a big-league prime time show like NYPD Blue to have two gay characters that are at least recurring (John from upstairs being the other), I'm a bit concerned by the stereotypes involved - if John was less swishy or Adrianne less brusque, I'd feel a bit more comfortable. On the other hand, Justine Miceli and Bill Brochtrup are both doing good jobs at making their characters more than just their sexualities, so I'll adopt a wait and see attitude.

And even if Lesniak used the old "I'm a lesbian" defense without really meaning it, it was worth it for her to shut Greg up. I recently got some e-mail from Gordon Clapp's sister saying that he's the nicest, least annoying or neurotic guy you'd ever want to meet. Well, if that's true than give the man his Emmy right now! :-)

The extended look we got at Diane's family was also very welcome, considering what a cipher the character's been up until now. All we've known so far is A)She's beautiful; B)She's got the hots for Simone; C)She's an alcoholic with some warped values. Well, now we have a bit more of an explanation of *how* she got so screwed up. The Russell family is dysfunctional with a capital D - when Dougie referred to Diane as "the family success story," you knew they weren't exactly the Huxtables. And the scene where Diane stormed out on her father's little tirade to leave her mother and brother to deal with it was a good reminder that Diane's not quite the saint Bobby is. What I'm curious about is which part of this story will be follwed up: Diane's family or her slight fall off the wagon, or both. Was calling her boyfriend instead of her sponsor a bad move?

Neither of the actual cases intrigued me too much. I think they were going for a farcical element with the Biaggi story - some sort of "I Love You to Death"-esque schtick about how Biaggi just wouldn't die - but they didn't quite pull it off. Maybe if they'd used Jon Polito, who was one of the funniest men in any cop show ever when he was playing Crosetti on "Homicide", a bit more in the role of Biaggi - like if they'd let him talk - it would've worked.

And the serial rapist story was fairly standard stuff, with one exception. The scene where Bobby leapt on top of Curvis, with Andy holding him back, was intriguing. I'm still trying to figure out whether Bobby was just furious over Curvis laying his hands on Diane (despite the fact that Bobby was the one who put Diane in that position) or whether it was just fury at all of Curvis' crimes.

What I've noticed about a lot of these one-episode stories is that it would be really easy to take a few minutes in an earlier episode to set them up. I.E., spend five minutes of an early season episode with Bobby and Andy getting frustrated over a seemingly unsolvable string of rapes/murders, and then five or six episodes later, some new piece of evidence (like a suspect standing in the precinct lobby) shows up which enables them to close the case. I know that'd make me a lot less annoyed with these sorts of plotlines.

Finally, before some briefer comments, I'm still holding out a glimmer of hope that James' wounding will have any kind of long-term resonance. James' limp and his easily exhausted nature could just be precursors to him either having second thoughts about the job or becoming very gun-shy when chasing perps. We'll see - I hope.

So, on to shorter takes:


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